Things that taste good or feel good send signals to our brain that says, “we like this, do it again!” It’s this reward-based learning process that makes it so difficult to fight urges to smoke or eat something sweet. We understand on an intellectual level that obesity and smoking are a leading cause of death, but when we are stressed out we can’t seem to overcome the need for gratification.
Mindfulness can help break the enchantment so we can clearly see what we gain when we are caught up in our behaviors. Understanding bad habits on a deeper level can help us to lose interest in old habits and form new ones.
An example of using mindfulness to change a behavior may look like this:
- A woman’s argument with her spouse creates a stress trigger.
- An urge to light a cigarette emerges.
- Instead of lighting the cigarette in that moment she pays attention to how she feels.
- She experiences the uncomfortable sensations of tightness, restlessness and tension, instead of turning away from it.
- She is curiously aware of how the urge to smoke is connected to these sensations and stays in the moment.
- Instead of fearing her feelings, she experiences them and discovers smoking isn’t doing anything but distracting her from emotions she’d rather avoid.
- Our smoker is starting to become disenchanted with the behavior and she is just less interested in being hooked on cigarettes.